Summer’s vibrant tomato harvest can be overwhelming, leaving you with an abundance of this juicy fruit. Rather than letting them go to waste, preserving tomatoes at home ensures you can enjoy their freshness and flavour year-round. Whether you have a sprawling garden or picked up a bounty at the farmer’s market, here are the best ways to make those tomatoes last.
Canning for Longevity
Canning is one of the most popular and efficient methods to preserve tomatoes. It locks in their freshness and flavour, allowing you to enjoy them in sauces, soups, and stews throughout the year.
Whole Tomatoes: Start by blanching tomatoes to remove their skins. Then, pack them into sterilized jars with a bit of lemon juice or citric acid to preserve colour and acidity. Process the jars in a water bath canner.
Tomato Sauce: Simmer down a rich tomato sauce with garlic, onions, and herbs. Pour the sauce into sanitized jars and process in a water bath. This sauce becomes a versatile base for pasta, pizzas, and more.
Salsa: Create zesty tomato salsa by combining tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro. Process the jars in a water bath for salsa ready to grace your tortilla chips.
Freezing for Convenience
Freezing tomatoes is a straightforward method that retains their vibrant colour and flavour, perfect for recipes like chili and curries.
Blanched Tomatoes: Start by blanching tomatoes in boiling water for a minute, then transferring them to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Remove the skins and freeze the tomatoes whole or chopped.
Tomato Puree: Blend fresh tomatoes into a puree and freeze it in airtight containers or ice cube trays. This puree can be used in a variety of dishes like soups and sauces.
Drying for Intense Flavour
Drying tomatoes concentrates their flavours into a chewy, intensely flavoured form. They’re a fantastic addition to salads, pasta, and sandwiches.
Sun-Drying: If you live in a sunny, dry climate, sun-drying is an option. Slice tomatoes and lay them out in a sunny spot with good air circulation, often on screens or trays. This method can take several days.
Oven-Drying: If you don’t have the climate for sun-drying, use your oven. Place sliced tomatoes on baking sheets, sprinkle with salt, and bake at a low temperature (around 93°C) for several hours until they reach your desired dryness.
Pickling for a Tangy Twist
Tomatoes can also be pickled to create tangy, flavourful additions to salads, sandwiches, and cheese platters.
Cherry Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes are ideal for pickling. Combine them with vinegar, sugar, and spices to create a pickling brine. Pack the tomatoes into sterilised jars, pour the brine over them, and process in a water bath.
Preserving tomatoes at home not only reduces food waste but also allows you to savour the taste of summer all year long. Depending on your preference and culinary needs, choose from canning, freezing, drying, or pickling methods. With a well-preserved tomato stash, you’ll always have the base for delectable sauces, hearty soups, and vibrant salads right at your fingertips, regardless of the season. So, seize the moment and capture the essence of summer in your kitchen with these preserving techniques.